Last week, after a few months of delays, Motorino's Mathieu Palombino opened The Bowery Diner, his haute-retro diner on the Bowery next to the New Museum. Some early customers are filing raves, comparing the place to Florent, praising the raw whelks. Other balk at the prices and the shaky service. Look ahead at what the first diners are saying.
The Good News: They don't say much about the food, but the kids at Zagat seems pleased with an early visit to the Bowery Diner: "A visit to the diner last night reminded us of old times, particularly nights at shuttered Meatpacking District restaurant Florent, which was the hippest diner in town back in the 90s/early aughts...While it's just getting started, it already reminded us of similarly low-priced and trendy Acme, which just opened a few blocks uptown. As 2011 grew to a close, we lamented the growing gentrification of the NYC restaurant scene. If these two openings are any indication, 2012 will be a lot more interesting." [Zagat]
The Bad News: An Eater commenter isn't wowed: "ate there last night... it wasn't good. missed the mark on too many levels. total bill over $100 for 2 should have gone to Moonstruck." Adds another, "Turkey burger, $16, cheeseburger, $15, with tip tax, you're paying $20 for a burger! OK it comes with fries or mixed greens. Was it good? Sure! $20 good? Psssshaw. Seems like they incentivize the help too as ours kept suggesting a (overpriced $11-$13) house drink and then cherry pie at the end. No substitutions on the white bread bun and the burgers are either medium rare or well done ONLY, chef's rules." [Eater Commenters]
The Good News: Robert Sietsema of the Voice loves the whelks: "The whelk is a marine gastropod (meaning possessing a foot that eats) commonly called a sea snail. It scavenges along the bottom of the ocean. At newly opened Bowery Diner, you can confront them raw on ice, still in their lovely curling shells, or you can have them the way the French serve land snails (escargot), in garlic butter, mopping up the remaining savory butter with your bread. Either way, it's a brilliant dish, and you should try it immediately." [VV]
The Not So Great News: So far, the restaurant has six reviews and is averaging a sad two and a half stars. Here's one: "The good ends about there. Brought out cold bread in a bag and 1 pat of butter for a table of 2. Ordered the meat plate. missing the duck pate. after inquiring about it, it took about 10 minutes for a "Chef didn't like it and would not serve it." OKAY! then our entrees TOOK FOREVER, on a week night at 9:45 after the dinner rush in a "DINER", and not complicated the skate fish and the sausage platter. UNFORGIVABLE for entrees to take almost 30 minutes to come out. Finally get them, the fish cooked just right, but the way it was served was just weird, on a MOUNTAIN of hard to eat shoe string potatoes. I had the sausage platter with Saurkraut and potato(1). NOT GOOD. Everything came out what appeared to be steamed, the saurkraut (which I was told was made in house) was canned. the meats were good, but there should have thrown them on the grill and crisped the skins alittle." [Yelp]
The Tweets: Per the twitter: "Do not get the beet salad at Bowery Diner as it is literally pickled beets plated with lettuce leaves. #vegetarianproblems." Luckily, there's also a fan on the twitter: "Second day at The Bowery Diner: One of the best pieces of skate I've had paired w/ excellent apple pie makes for a good meal, turns out." [Twitter]
The Mixed Bag: The Foursquare tips also offer a mixed bag of suggestions. One notes, "Still needs some fine tuning but has potential." Another adds, "Try the duck breast! Mmmmmmm." While a third writes, "Disgusting and over priced. Had a burger and it was so undercooked the patty was mush. Friend had a chicken Cesar salad and it had anchovies in it. Yuck!!!!" [Foursquare]